Issue 1, Number 11: “The Rebellious Son Who Stole the Kingdom”


Introduction:

It is sad when heartbreak comes to a parent through children who grow up to disrespect them. Many parents in our culture know this heartbreak well because they raised their kids during a time when it was believed that discipline would “scar” them and would “stifle their individuality. I want to share with you just such a story. I want to take you back to a period in the world’s history when a nation stood out among it’s peers for its power and it’s seemingly favored position in the universe.The powerful king of this powerful nation had a very handsome son who had beautiful long locks of hair and was the apple of his father’s eye. The King’s name was David and the son’s name was Absalom. I believe that we receive some valuable lessons from studying this father-son relationship. Consider that …

The Son’s Character Development Was impacted by the Lack of Parental Attention/Discipline While Growing Up.

The King, as often happens with busy fathers, was very busy in the affairs of his kingdom. He was a very sincere, religious and hard working man. He had a sense of values and he knew the importance of modeling good character before his children. He was just distracted with the business of the kingdom. To put it bluntly, he failed to watch his kids grow up. One biographer said of David, “He helped conceive lots of children but he helped rear none of them” (Swindoll, p. 153).

In the course of that neglect, character development suffered. Absalom built resentment towards his absentee father. He sees the messages repeated continually that his father has no backbone for discipline. David failed to teach Absalom to respect God and others. Again, to put it bluntly, Dad had been too busy doing “king stuff” to be a dad. Another factor that contributed the the son’s lack of character development was the fact that there were many other wives and kids in the picture. Talk about “blended families,” the king had 11 wives and at least 20 kids (See 1 Chron 3). Now, the son was one of the most handsome in the land – and he knew it. Bad character plus good looks. That is a formula that spells trouble!

Absalom had a sister named Tamar to whom he became very close. Despite his character flaws, Absalom felt very responsible to protect his younger sister. He comes to her rescue when she is raped by a half-brother. Amnon. Absalom, for two years, seethes in his anger toward Amnon over this incident. He cannot believe that his father does nothing about this shameful incident in their family! He is outraged by the injustice done to Tamar! Absalom plots his revenge. He tells David, “Father, I am planning a sheep-shearing party at Baal Hazor and I would like you and all of your servants to come. I have invited all of my brothers as well.” David declines his son’s offer but puts his blessing upon the event.

Absalom prepared a banquet fit for a king. He made sure there was plenty of wine to help him carry out his evil plan. When Amnon arrived at the banquet the servants of Absalom said to him, “Welcome Prince Amnon, your brother has prepared a sumptuous feast! Come and take your fill. We have plenty of wine so drink up!” As Amnon is feeling no pain, the servants of Absalom fulfill the commands of their master and execute the death sentence.

As Absalom flees the scene, after Amnon is dead, it is noteworthy where he goes. “He takes refuge with his granddad. Apparently Absalom had established a link with him and found something in the home of Grandfather Talmai that he couldn’t find in David’s. He remained there for three years.” Also, consider secondly that …

The Son’s Appetite for Power was Whetted by What He Saw Lacking in His Father’s Style.

Raised in an unruly, undisciplined, completely dysfunctional home, the son’s heart grew wicked and ungrateful and cruel in the three years he was away from the palace. And while there he had begun to formulate a plan to take the throne and kingdom away from his father and make himself king instead. He began to live in a kingly luxurious way.

He would also rise early, go to the gate of the king’s palace and offer to judge the cases of those who came to see the King. He would tell them, The King is busy! He will not take the time for you, but I will consider your pleas!” In the course of time, he “won the hearts of all he met.” while his father the king isolated himself in the palace. Slowly the kingdom was slipping away from the king and he was oblivious to it. And finally, see that …

The Son’s Reward Was Predictable Based Upon His Wrong Priorities.

After 4 years of plotting and winning the popularity of the people with his judgement, the son felt he had a solid enough hold on the hearts of the people to assert his power directly. Under the guise of going on a mission of mercy, he assembled an army of confidants and one of his father’s chief advisors. He sent messengers throughout the land spreading the message that he was now king. The news made its way to the palace that the son had made himself king, that the army supported him and that the hearts of the people were with him.

The King, not knowing who to trust or where to go, fled for his life. David cried, “Up and out of here! We must run for our lives or none of us will escape Absalom. Hurry, he is about to pull the city down around our ears and slaughter us all!” Amidst the sorrow and lament prevalent during the escape, David is found weeping and walking barefoot as he mourned the betrayal of his son. Eventually, however, forces loyal to the king, who had remained behind as insiders to evaluate the situation, were able to lead a return of power to the king. In the ensuing conflict between those loyal to the king, and those loyal to the son, the son fled the palace and his long beautiful hair became caught in an oak tree. As he hung suspended from the oak, one of the soldiers in the kings army stabbed him through and he died.

Conclusion:

We can learn valuable lessons from history, especially from biblical history. George Santayana (1863-1952), philosopher, essayist poet and novelist, said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Life and Reason (1905-1906), Vol. I, Reason in Common Sense). Have we learned anything from the story of David and Absalom (1010-970 B.C.)?

My “second-half” work (see the book Hatltime by Bob Buford) is focused on ministering to families who are struggling with these and similar issues.

Warning: What follows in my “two-minute commercial” for my website and my T.G.I.F. Toastmasters club.

I invite you to visit my website often. I attempt to deal with these issues. Read my Vision Statement and Guiding Values. and feel free to post your comments on anything that you read at http://achristiansvoice.com.

Mission Statement: Dedicated to Youth and Mens’ Ministry, the purpose of ACV is to provide ministry and outreach services to families that include: consulting, christian counseling, teaching, coaching and mentoring through a number of defferent avenues. ACV will provide public speakers and teachers for events, write feature articles for publications and provide supply chain management functions for churches and other ministry partners.

Our Guiding Values:

To Act with Integrity in All We Do

To Model Jesus with a Servant’s Heart

To Treat All with Respect and Honesty

May all be to God’s glory! Lord help us to be an influence on the lives that we touch. Make us an instrument of your

Note: This article is based upon the text of a speech that I gave yesterday at the T.G.I.F Toastmasters club which meets (7:00 – 8:30 A.M. the first and third Fridays of the month during November and December; second and fourth Fridays the remainder of the year) at the Marriott Courtyard, 11001 Woodson, Overland Park, KS. (See our website http://www.tgiftoastmasters.com/directions.html and come by and visit if you happen to be in our area. In the two years that I have been a member of the club, I have found the members to be a great encouragement to my personal and professional development. The energy level evident at the meetings is absolutely amazing considering the early hour.

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 21, 2009

Praise the Lord! Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who greatly delights in His commands! Bad news has come to me from time to time in my life, but in times when I have been appropriately focused on and serving the Lord, I was not afraid because my heart was firm, trusting in the Lord.

The adding of 15 years to the life of Hezekiah after God considered his prayer and his life of “faithfulness with a whole heart” reminds me of my father’s battle with colon cancer and a heart condition in 1988. Those were some scary times. I remember spending time with him in the hospital and seeing him hallucinate in reaction to medications he was being given. He pulled through those tough times and went on to spend 18 more years preaching and teaching and doing good wherever he went. I am grateful, Lord, for those years that you added to his life

Today’s Readings: Psalm 112; 2 Kings 20; Isaiah 9:8-10:34; John 13

I have always been dismayed by failures in spiritual leadership. Over the years we have seen example after example of men who have fallen from their positions of trust. Men who choose to lead people, whether it be as a minister or an elder or some other capacity, have a powerful influence upon others. God sends the message, through Isaiah, that His judgement will come upon the failed leaders of their day! Help me Lord, to faithfully execute the power of influence that I have on others!

John makes an interesting comment in his biographical account of Jesus’ last days. He says, “he loved them to the end.” As the ESV Study Bible says, “Though Jesus was about to die an agonizing death, He continued to love His disciples…. he will always be present with His disciples, even after His ascension into heaven (see John 14:23; Matthew 18:20; 28:20; Revelation 3:20)…. in His divine nature Jesus is omnipresent and is with believers ‘always’ (Matthew 28:20).

Jesus proved this love by washing His disciples feet. They did not understand the full significance of this until much later, but they definitely were seeing humility and servant-leadership modeled before them! We also see that Jesus is “troubled in His spirit” as He reflects on His impending betrayal by one of His own apostles. As He moves closer to the events that He himself says will glorify Himself, the Son of Man, and will also glorify God, His concern for those He loves is evident! What an agonizing time this had to be for our Saviour but He subjected Himself to it because He loves us! Lord, may my love for you be just as enduring and steadfast as that You demonstrate for me!

I pray that today’s readings encourage you and that you have a blessed day, dear friend! Use part of your day today to prepare your hearts for entering into the Lord’s house of worship tomorrow. May your assembling with other Christians, on the Lord’s Day, be uplifting and motivating for the week that you will face! Praise the Lord!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 20, 2009

Praise the Lord! Holy and Awesome is His name! Here is an appropriate use of the often overused word. As I begin this day, I give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart. Great are His works; full of splendor and majesty, His wondrous works are before us! He provides food, remembers His covenant and shows to His people the power of His works. I love to begin the day reading the Psalms, as they put me in a thankful frame of mind and prepare my heart to come into the Lord’s presence to seek His blessings on the day!

The power of God to protect His servants who trust in Him, hold fast to Him, and depart not from following Him (2 Kings 18:5-8), is demonstrated in the account of the dealings with the proud, boasting Sennaherib, King of Assyria. Help me Lord to maintain a similar trust and confidence in You. Hezekah and Isaiah were great role models. They stood their ground, with You by their side. They delivered Your Word to their antagonists and You blessed them with deliverance! Praise the Lord!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 111; 2 Kings 19; Isaiah 9:1-7; John 12:20-50

Isaiah foretells the coming of the one to be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. What a blessing Jesus brought to the world, establishing His government in the hearts of people and bringing peace.

John describes interactions Jesus had with folks who did not believe that He fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah and other prophets. They struggled to understand the message that Jesus brought. Part of that struggle, Jesus says, is because they love the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. Lord, help me today to be an instrument of your work.

Have a blessed day, dear friend.

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 18, 2009

In our first reading, David describes the situation of his attack by his accusers (vv. 1-5), then prays extensively that his accusers would receive what they deserve (vv. 6-21), and follows this with a prayer that expresses faith in God’s steadfast love (vv. 21-31).

Phillip Yancey observes that most of us are reluctant to pray that our accusers’ “children be fatherless” and that “the creditor seize all that he has,” as David does here. We are told by Jesus to pray for our enemies (Matthew 5:44), but does David’s prayer meet the intent of that command. Yancey says,

“If a person wrongs me. I have several options. I can seek personal revenge, a response condemned by the Bible. I can deny or suppress my felling of hurt and anger. Or, I can take those feelings to God, entrusting God with the task of retributive justice. The cursing psalms are vivid examples of that last option. The authors are expressing their outrage to God, not to the enemy.” (Prayer – Does It Make Any Difference, p. 173).

It may be that I suffer at the hands of my accusers today. If so, may I look to God as David did and pray, “But You, O God my Lord, deal on my behalf for Your name’s sake; because your steadfast love is good, deliver me!” Praise the Lord!

The second reading describes the process of the Assyrians populating Samaria after the people of Israel are taken away captive to Assyria. There existed in the land a strange mixture of paganism with the commandments, statutes, and rules of the one true God. As I reflect on my service to God, I realize that, if I am not careful, I can allow place in my heart to other priorities. I can allow Satan to put other things into my heart that become more important to me than serving God. Lord, may it never be!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 109; 2 Kings 17:24-41; Isaiah 6; John 11:1-54

Our reading from prophecy today is of Isaiah’s vision of the Lord sitting upon a throne, of his confession, “Woe is me! For I am lost; I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips…” and of the seraphim flying to him with the message that his guilt has been taken away and his sin atoned for.

Isaiah’s humility, and readiness to serve (“Here am I! Send me.”) is a great role model for me as I work to build on my strengths to become a better servant-leader! I have the same goal that he did, to help people see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed! May I engage myself in that mission as long a the Lord gives me breath!

The final reading today is the touching story of the death of Lazarus and the tender compassion with which Jesus counseled and consoled the departed one’s sisters. Jesus is deeply moved and weeps over the death of his dear friend. It is significant that, even though Jesus knew full well that he was “the resurrection and the life,” that he was touched with the grief of the moment. I learn many important principles from this scripture. Jesus is my perfect role model for consoling people in their grief. His example also shows me the appropriateness of the grieving process, even when we know death will be followed by resurrection and joy (1 Thessalonians 4:13).

Make time in your busy life for the daily reading of His Word and have a blessed day, dear friend!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 17, 2009

My heart is lifted this morning by our first reading, which is a psalm of David. Confidence and appreciation are its themes. David proclaims, “My heart is steadfast O God! I will sing and make melody with all my being!” The reason for this confidence is stated in verse 4, “Your steadfast love is great above the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” My Lord is an AWESOME god!

The second reading concludes the history of the northern kingdom of Israel, as a separate nation. The account of Assyria’s capture of Samaria and the carrying away of the people is followed by a catalogue of “whys.” This sad end came to Judah because of:

  • sin
  • worshipping other gods including making metal images of Baal
  • doing secretly against God things that were not right
  • doing wicked things
  • provoking the Lord to anger
  • not listening to God’s instructions through prophets and seers
  • despising His statutes

It is very clear that this calamity came upon the people of God because they failed to appreciate the love and faithfulness of God! Lord, help me to learn from those who have lived before me! I pray today that my God will create in me a clean heart, to daily make the commitment to serve Him all the days of my life!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 108; 2 Kings 17:1-23; Isaiah 5; John 10:19-42

The third reading contains the prophet’s conclusions from the diagnosis he has made of Judah’s spiritual decline in chapters 1-5. Though he prophesied during the days of 4 specific kings of Judah, he speaks in allegorical terms, of both the “house of Israel” and the “men of Judah.” The song of the vineyard (verses 1-5) describe God’s love in planting and nurturing the vineyard. This is followed by the “woes” and “therefores” (verses 8-30) describing the bitter fruits of Israel’s character and the harvest of inescapable consequences. I pray this morning that my Good Father will help me to obey Hiscommands through inspired servants who recorded His Word! I pray that He will help me to appreciate and respect those to whom He has have given the responsibility to watch over my soul (Hebrews 13:17).

And finally today, Jesus’ words remind me of the “stir” that He caused among the religious folks of his day. As he taught, there was very mixed response to His message. I can expect no less today. I am also reminded of the warm, trusting relationship that I have with Him, as I place my confidence in my Shepherd! I hear His voice! I follow Him! Nothing that will happen to me today, and no one that I will encounter today can “snatch” me out of His hand!

Examine the scriptures daily, receiving it with all eagerness (Acts 17:10-11), and have a blessed day, dear friend!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 16, 2009

Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Let the redeemed of the Lord say so, whom He has redeemed from trouble!

Some wandered in the desert wastes finding no way to a city to dwell in but He led them by a straight way, He satisfies the longing soul and the hungry soul, He fills with good things. Some sat in darkness and in the shadow of death, prisoners in affliction and in irons. He delivered themfrom their distress. He brought them out of darkness and the shadow of death, and burst their bonds apart. Some were fools through their sinful ways, and because of their iniquities suffered affliction. He sent out His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destruction. Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the great waters. They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their evil plight; they reeled and staggered like drunken men and were at their wits end. He made the storm to be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed. Then they were glad that the waters were quiet, and He brought them to their desired haven.

Today’s Readings: Psalm 107; 2 Kings 16; Isaiah 3-4; John 10:1-14

I’m redeemed, praise the Lord! How about you friend, Jesus says, in our final reading for today, that he is the “door” and that all must enter the “sheepfold” through Him. Have you done that? He also says that He is the good shepherd who lays down his life for His sheep. He has done that for you and for me! If you would like to study further, add your comments at the end of this post, or e-mail me privately (randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com).

Have a blessed day, dear friend!

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 15, 2009

Praise the Lord! Oh give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever! Remember me, O Lord, that I may look upon the prosperity of your cholsen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of your nation, that I may glory with your inheritance. Our fathers, when they were in Egypt, did not onsider Your wondrous works, yet You remembered them. They put You to the test in the wilderness. They exchanged Your glory for the image of an ox that eats grass. You would have destroyed them, had Moses not stood in the breach for them to turn away Your wrath from destroying them. Many times You delivered them but they were rebellious. Nevertheless You heard their cry, You remembered Your covenant and relented according to the abundance of Your steadfast love! Save us, O Lord our God, that we may give thanks to Your Holy name and glory in Your praise! And let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 106; 2 Kings 14:23-15:38; Isaiah 2; John9

Worship Him in spirit and in truth today and have a blessed day, dear friend!

–Randy Sexton

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – November 14, 2009: Are You Looking?

A Christian’s Voice From Raymore – November 14, 2009

Are You Looking

When I went away to college for the first time, I was fortunate to be with other Christians. I also met for a period of worship and for bible classes every day, right on campus! There were also a great number of conservative, bible-believing, bible-teaching churches within driving distance of the campus.

I realize that not everyone has the opportunity that I had. Perhaps you are in a situation quite different than the one described above. Perhaps you are surrounded by fellow-students who do not have the same values and who certainly have different priorities in life. Perhaps you are in an area of the country where there is NOT a congregation of God’s people with whom you can worship and study. If that is the case, then it is primarily to you that writing in today’s column.

My father had the occasion to work with a small band of disciples in Manhattan, Kansas from 1979 through June 1983 and, in an article that he wrote for Truth Magazine while he was there, he said,

It is important to the faithful child of God to know where other children of the Father are meeting, so they can meet and worship faithfully, according to the New Testament scriptures (Acts 2:42, 41). It should be the mutual concern of all involved to find faithful disciples when they move to a community and the disciples in the community to receive those coming to the community, so as to be strengthened and to offer encouragement, etc. Consequently, it seems to me that there is a need to be a bit more concerned about letting people know where we are meeting and to help those leaving us find a faithful group of disciples in the community where they are going.”

Dad was very interested in getting the word out to Christians who were not receiving needed encouragement of fellow-Christians, because they had failed to “connect” once they established their routines away from home. He continued in the Truth article,

“Inasmuch as there are a number of people coming to Ft. Riley and moving out, I would like to hear from those who are meeting near military bases so I can tell any who are leaving here where you are. Take note, you who are meeting near a military base, of our address (1112 Pierre in Manhattan Kansas) and inform any military personnel there of our meeting place and/or our personal address (1937 Judson, Manhattan, KS 66502) and phone number which was listed above. Also, you may inform us that they are coming, so we can be expecting them and possibly help them in some way to find a good living quarters, etc.

“Also, we would like to hear of congregations meeting near college campuses, so we can inform any student that is transferring there. If you have any who are coming to KSU, be sure to let them know of us. The parent would surely manifest a Christian concern who helps the son or daughter learn of a congregation which is faithfully working under the Lord and encourage them to be a part of it. A failure to be concerned and make the effort manifests either a lack of knowledge or love for the child. Disciples must remain faithful till death, if the eternal well being is to be secured. Such requires serving – being active in the Lord’s word and seeking to interest and motivate others to be faithful.

“So, as the disciple Onesiphorus “sought” Paul out “diligently, and found” him and was not ashamed of his “chain” (2 Tim. 1:16-18), each child of God today must show an equal concern for truth and God’s disciples. Can we help? Let us hear from you. You can help us help others by letting us know of your presence and determination to serve God faithfully.” (Truth Magazine XXIV: 37, p. 599
September 18, 1980).

At the time of this writing, I must confess, I don’t know if that work in Manhattan continues today. If you know, would you drop me a note? But, if you are reading these words, and I can be a resource to you in “connecting” with God’s people, please let me know. There are two ways that you can do that. You may post a comment at the end of this blog, or you can send me a private e-mail at randy.sexton@achristiansvoice.com. I will do my best to provide you timely information and encouragement to assist you in your daily walk as a devoted disciple.

Bless you as you travel life’s journey. Make right choices and give glory and honor to the Lord who, as we said in this morning’s reflections, “remembered His holy promise and Abraham, His servant, so he brought his people out with joy, his chosen ones with singing, that they might keep His statutes and observe His laws. Praise the Lord!”

–Randy Sexton

Reflections – November 14, 2009

Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name; make known his deeds among the peoples! Sing to Him, sing praises to Him; tell of His wondrous works! Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice and seek His peace continually! Remember the wondrous works He has done? Remember when His people were few in number, of little account, and sojourners in it, wandering from nation to nation? He allowed no one to oppress them! Remember Joseph and how the Lord tested him and the king sent and released him and made him lord of his house and ruler of all his possessions? The Lord made His people very fruitful and made them stronger than their foes! Remember how Moses and Aaron performed His signs among them and brought Israel out with silver and gold so that none of them among His tribes who stumbled? The Lord remember His holy promise and Abraham His servant so He brought his people out with joy, His chosen ones with singing. I will keep His statutes and observe His law! Praise the Lord!

Today’s Readings: Psalm 105; 2 Kings14:1-22; Isaiah 1; John 8

Have a blessed day dear friend and begin early to prepare for worship on the Lord’s Day!

–Randy Sexton